Preserving digital items such as video games it’s a tricky affair, not only from a technological point of view, but mainly because of the legislation. To further enlighten people about the importance of this subject, a new paper, by the title of Games as Cultural Heritage: Copyright Challenges for Preserving (Orphan) Video Games in the EU, has been published on IPITEC – Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law. The paper is penned by Henrike Maier, Doctoral Researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft. Rike also attended The Save Game, the digital preservation summit which took place in Berlin the last 22nd April and which saw EFGAMP between the participants. It is possible therefore to see a connection between the summit and the paper, which tackles the same issues.
The paper focuses primarily on the concept of orphan work, or a work whose creators are unavailable, making impossible to reach for them and ask for an emulation permission. In the case of video games this happens very often, since there is not an official record of the work of developers, and many of the data produced is doomed to a real digital limbo. Aim of the paper is to determine if certain video games can be associated with the concept of orphan work and therefore are covered by the directive of permitted uses of orphan works 2012/28/EU (Orphan Works Directive). The answer to this question is not an easy one: video games are complex works with software and audiovisual component, making it difficult to classify them.
The paper touches important themes, such as abandonware, and analyses if video games fall under the directive, considering them as audiovisual or cinematographic works; finally, the paper tries to find out whether the provisions of the orphan work exception are suitable for the specifics of these complex, “multimedia” works.